thirumAlai – 37 – theLivilAk kalangal nIr

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avathArikai (introduction)

Despite AzhwAr calling out [as seen in the previous pAsuram] to periya perumAL, since periya perumAL is not saying “do not worry” with sympathy, AzhwAr feels distressed. “Is he keeping quiet because he thinks that someone else will help me, other than himself? Is he thinking that I am after some other goal in samsAram (materialistic realm)? If he says ‘he is my little fellow’, I will be able to escape from all the troubles. His divine heart has become so hardened that he is not saying even this, and he is sleeping” laments the AzhwAr.

Let us go through the pAsuram and its meanings.

theLivilAk kalangal nIr sUzh thiruvarangaththuL Ongum
oLiyuLAr thAmE anRE thandhaiyum thAyum AvAr
eLiyadhOr aruLum anRE en thiRaththu empirAnAr
aLiyan nam paiyal ennAr ammavO! kodiayvARE

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Word-by-word Meaning

theLivu ilA – without being clear
kalangal – being muddled
nIr sUzh – surrounded by kAvEri
thiruvarangaththuL – inside the temple
Ongum – being resplendent
oLi uLAr thAmE anRE – isn’t he the radiant periya perumAL himself
thandhaiyum thAyum AvAr – is father and mother (to us)
en thiRaththu – in my matter (to be carried out)
eLiyadhu Or aruLum anRE – to glance at me with comforting eyes
em pirAnAr – one who does favours to me
nam paiyal aLiyan ennAr – he does not say (a word) “our little fellow is worthy of my grace”
amma O kodiyavARE – Oh! (his heart) is so hardened

vyAkhyAnam (commentary)

theLivilAk kalangal – if the flow of water in kAvEri eases a bit, there would be opportunity for it to become clear. But since there is more and more flood, it remains muddled constantly. This AzhwAr is also, like kAvEri, always agitated. Before attaining emperumAn he will be worried that “I have not attained him”. Once he attains emperumAn, he will be agitated because of his love for him. This river too, when it flows from the west towards the temple, will be agitated because of expectation of seeing periya perumAL and when it leaves the temple and flows towards the east it will be agitated because it is going away from him. Hence it is clear that without any distinction between chEthana (AzhwAr) and achEthana (river) entities, even those who walk near the temple would feel agitated.

nIr sUzh – Just as nammAzhwAr says in thiruvAimozhi 10.10.10 “adhanil periya en avAvarach chUzhndhAy”, periya perumAL envelops the AzhwArs with his love. In the same way, kAvEri also envelops periya perumAL because of her love for him. It is pertinent, here, to think of parASara bhattar’s SrIrangarAja sthavam 1.21 “dhugdhAbdhir janakO jananyahamiyam SrIrEva puthri vA SrIrangESvara Ethadharhamiha kim kuryAmithvAkulA I sanjachchAmara chandhra chandhana mahAmANikya mukthOthkarAn kAvErI lahareekarairvidhadhathI paryEthi sA sEvyathAm II” (kAvEri wonders “kshIrsAgara is the father; I (his wife) am the mother; this SrIranganAyaki is the daughter; SrIranganAthan is the son-in-law. What will I carry as wealth befitting them?”. It appears that she then carries bright chAmaram (whisk made out of yak tail, used as fan for emperumAn), pachchaikkaRpUram (medicated camphor used as a flavouring agent in foods), sandalwood trees, great gems, pearls etc in heaps towards you. You [emperumAn] should have a bath in that kAvEri). In the world, we see people offering gifts based on the status of the bride, bridegroom and the bride’s parents. At SrIrangam, which is the place where SrIranganAyaki wedded SrIranganAthan, the bride is the goddess of wealth, SrIdhEvi herself. The bridegroom is azhagiya maNavALan (the beautiful groom) who is superior to everyone else and the paramAthmA. The bride’s father is the repository of all gems, thiruppARkadalarasan [khIrsAgar, the king of all oceans] and the bride’s mother is his consort, the one who is more sacred than even gangA (ganges), kAvEri. When everything about this is so supreme, how to carry gifts to them, wonders kAvEri and carries all the items mentioned earlier, and comes like an elephant in exultation, exclaims bhattar.

thiruvarangaththuL ONgum oLiyuLAr – just as it is difficult to remove the floods in kAvEri, see the river bed and enter it, it is equally difficult to remove the resplendent radiance of periya perumAL, enter the space and admire the beauty of his divine form, which is the repository of his radiance. thiruvarangaththil Ongum oLi – after he entered thiruvarangam (SrIrangam), even the brightness in paramapadham got reduced, like light during daytime. The resplendent radiance at SrIrangam helps the lowly samsAris like light during night-time. Ongum oLi – emperumAn, standing amidst nithyasUris, is like a sun amidst other suns. But standing amidst samsAris, who suffer from the sorrows of samsAram, and protecting them, the radiance also acquires dominance.

oLiyuLAr thAmE anRE thandhaiyum thAyum AvAr – subAlOpanishath 16 says “mAthA pithA bhrAthA nivAsaS SaraNam suhruth gathir nArAyaNa:” (nArAyaNa is mother, he is father, he is brother, he is the dwelling place, he is the means for attaining mOksha (liberation), he is friend, he is the one attained in mOksha). AzhwAr says that for him it is not the paramapadhanAthan, who is common to all; it is not vyUha or vibhava form of perumAL who is common to a few people only; it is not other archAvathAra vigrahas (forms) common for other AzhwArs; it is only periya perumAL who is his father and mother. This is the meaning for using the term thAmE (he himself) to the exclusivity of everyone else. AzhwAr wonders whether periya  perumAL, who is everything to him, is thinking that AzhwAr has someone else (other than himself) as his relative and hence is keeping quiet. It is pertinent here to think of mahAbhAratham vana parvam 192.56 SlOkam “sarvEshAmEva lOkAnAm pithA mAthA cha mAdhava: I gachchadhvamEnam SaraNam SaraNyam purusharshabhA:II” (Oh great purushas! Only lakshminAthan is the father and mother for all worlds. Surrender to him, who is fit to be surrendered to). The story behind this SlOka is as follows: During the time that dharmaputhra (yudhishtra) was carrying out vanavAsa (living in forest) with his family, krishNa and his consort sathyabhAma came there. On hearing this, parASara maharishi and other rishis convened an assembly under the leadership of mArkaNdEya maharishi. dharmaputhra asked the assembly “I always go in the path of righteousness, yet I suffer like this. dhuryOdhana always goes in the path of evil, yet he is always happy. Please tell me, what is the reason for this and what is the remedy for this?”. Each rishi gave a remedy for this. Finally, their head, mArkaNdEya maharishi considered all their opinions as pUrvapaksha (first objection to an assertion in any discussion) and recited this SlOka as his sidhdhAntha (demonstrated conclusion of an argument). Either for suffering in sadness or enjoying in happiness, it is not the path chosen by dharmaputhra or dhuryOdhana which is the cause. It is because of this that the remedies offered by other rishis here, for dharmaputhra to come out of his troubles, will not stand scrutiny. Surrendering to mAdhava (bhagavAn), who is the natural relative to all and who is the natural means for attaining him, is the reason for real happiness. Instead of holding on to him, if someone holds on to other means, it will only lead to vicious circle in samsAram, and thus to sadness, like following the path of evil. The considered opinion here is that only SrIman nArAyaNa, who is a mother, father, everything, to all, is the refuge. Once when his brother SrIrAma bhattar fell ill, parASara bhattar recited this SlOka and divined its meaning too. thandhaiyum thAyum AvAr – it is only periya perumAL who will do nice things like a mother and good things like a father.

eLiyadhOr aruLum anRE en thiRaththu – unlike the cowherds, there is no need to carry out difficult tasks like lifting a mountain, to protect me. Are you thinking that I am asking for something other than yourself and hence you can grant it at an appropriate time? Are you keeping quiet thinking that to protect me, you have to lift a bow as you did in the case of vibhIshaNa or a whip as you did in the case of pANdavas [as a charioteer]? It is sufficient if you glance at me with your comforting eyes.

em pirAnAr – carrying out favours for me. When emperumAn is not even glancing at him, how is he saying that he is doing favours for him? AzhwAr is not the type to forget the favours already done by emperumAn. Keeping those in mind, he is beseeching emperumAn to do this favour. AzhwAr cannot deny the favours earlier done by emperumAn such as reminding him about the indelible relationship that he has with AzhwAr, reminding him that he is the means and the goal, and now, when AzhwAr is crying out to him, coming near him and listening to him.

What is the favour to be done now?

aLiyan nam paiyal ennAr – the word aLi means grace or mercy. aLiyan means one on whom mercy should be shown. AzhwAr’s desire now is that emperumAn should say “he has something  good in him to be shown my mercy. He is my little fellow”. Instead of addressing him as “my little fellow!”, AzhwAr feels uncomfortable being addressed as “AzhwIr!” by emperumAn. When I am his servitor, is it not enough if I think that I am his little fellow? Should I be called in that manner by him? AzhwAr thinks that it is not enough. Only if emperumAn, who is the master, calls him that way and confirms that he is the master and AzhwAr, his servitor, will AzhwAr’s servitorship last. It is pertinent here to think of incidents in pUrvAchAryAs‘ lives which have similar connection. In the first, when maNakkAl nambi (ALavandhAr’s AchAryar) was closeted with his disciples while giving a discourse on secretive meanings of SAsthram, one of his disciples, thirumagizhmArban, knocked on the door. maNakkAl nambi told his disciples “open the door for my son thirumagizhmArban”. In the second incident, appiLLaiyAzhwAn quoted his AchAryan piLLaippiLLaiyAzhwAn saying “little brother appiLLaiyAzhwAn is my little fellow”.

ammmavO kodiyavARE – when I am crying out to him in sorrow, should he not get up? How can he sleep even after hearing my voice? Has his divine heart become so hardened? How is his nature! exclaims the AzhwAr. The word amma indicates deep anguish.

Let us proceed to the 38th pAsuram.

adiyEn krishNa ramanuja dhAsan

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